December 28, 2013

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Reprise on Freedom

mountain-climbers-reaching-summitNothing really keeps me from feeling intensely proud of myself whenever I reach the summit of any one mountain, even if it’s just the local one. I can be intensely fatigued or incredibly unmotivated, but it all becomes worth that one view from atop the world. It is the feeling of accomplishment for me, an acknowledgement of my mastery over myself, a testament to one of the pinnacles of the human mind: the ability to put mind over matter. This self-control is described by some as positive freedom, the freedom to do what one pleases. This is in contrast with negative freedom, the freedom from constraints. Assuming there is a real tangible difference between the two inevitably begs the question of whether one is better than the other. Is it a more noble pursuit to gain command over oneself; to take the reins over your happiness; to block out the influences of pain and suffering? A slave may do that and call himself free, then. So politically speaking, freedom is much more than simply entail exercising total self-control. Then we have the other camp that uplifts negative freedom, the counterpoint of which begs the question of whether there should still exist laws, or whether there should be such a thing as common decency. They all are constraints enforced upon us, the unruly public; is it any better that we remove them?

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December 1, 2013

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Believe in Fitness: Say NO to E-Textbooks

 

With the proliferation of electronic books in recent years, the pressure to switch to electronic textbooks has increased dramatically. Help keep the traditional paper bound textbook! Say NO to electronic textbooks for these contentions listed below:

  • Ocular discomfort

    • The implementations of e-books as a replacement for traditional, physical textbooks forces us stare at computer screens for prolonged periods of time, necessary when studying dense material, causing the computer vision syndrome, a well documented condition characterized by these symptoms: eye strain, headaches, blurry vision, short-sightedness.

    • Repeated encounters with computer vision syndrome will eventually make the temporary short-sightedness caused by computer vision syndrome more permanent.

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August 6, 2013

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Moleskine Back Pocket Repair

My little black notebook holds very much value to me. Not only do I document what goes on in my mind, pouring out ideas or recording my memories, but I also put in the back pocket little trinkets that don’t belong in my wallet, but still mean enough to me to belong in my Moleskine’s back pocket. And if you’re like me and you have a softcover Moleskine pocket notebook, you know how the back pocket can only handle so much stress. It just so happened that the crease along which the manila was folded decided to completely separate, leaving my Moleskine with an open pocket, whereupon the contents originally placed within the pocket spilled over my desk. Below you will find a document of my repair.

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July 28, 2013

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Summer Physics at the University of Pennsylvania: Week Four

Explosive Finish

Explosive Finish

First Day: Breakfast with the Bomb

It was still far enough away to be tucked away in the back of our heads, this prospect of suddenly ending this wonderful journey through this illustrious program. This week started off with a lecture on the atomic bomb, and I must saw this was among the more interesting lectures because the fusion of history and science created for a very dramatic tale that tied in to World War II, and its delivery by Bill Berner made it fantastic. Because Berner was born in 1948, he was programming nuclear warheads at the height of the Cold War. And to complement all that, our teachers had provided us with a nice breakfast from Dunkin’ Donuts! Because of how snazzy the “Box O’Joe” looked to me, I decided to have a cup of coffee. After downing a cup of black coffee, I no longer needed to stand up in class to stay awake (it’s my little problem: no matter how much sleep I may get, once I’m in a lecture I start nodding off). Now I intend to use coffee anytime I have a lecture in a hall.

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July 22, 2013

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Summer Physics at the University of Pennsylvania: Week Three

Sh*t just got real…

Day One: Moving into the Big Arena

The third week: the week when everybody realizes only half the program remains. That didn’t affect our studies though as the labs in physics only got more interesting. We kicked off Monday morning with a talk on the exponential function. We weren’t learning the exponential function for the first time, rather we were introduced to the many uses and the importance of the exponential function instead. Shortly after, we began our talk on special relativity, which I won’t get into because I’m not sure if I’m even remotely qualified to expound on that subject. It has to do with a lot with how time moves slower for moving objects and that speed is different for people moving at different velocities. However, the one exception to this is light because light will appear to be travelling at the same speed for everybody, no matter the motion.

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July 14, 2013

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Summer Physics at the University of Pennsylvania: Week Two

Another day in life at the lab…

Ze First Day: Kicking Off with Electricity

The second week of my stay at the University of Pennsylvania with an exceptionally clear day with no rain at all, quite a surprise for me at the time seeing that the entirety of my first week I spent drenched in Philly rain (which I hope wasn’t acidic). The entire week following that day turned out to be clear of rain, save for one night on Friday.

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July 7, 2013

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Summer Physics at the University of Pennsylvania: Week One

Charles Custis Harrison and friends

Inauguration Day

So I’m attending a program call Summer Discovery, and the one I’m attending is on the University of Pennsylvania campus. I was excited to go, mostly because Pennsylvania is right across the continent from where I live. The physics was part of it too. I’ve never been to such a historic and old city, and I was going to get the opportunity to see July 4, American Independence Day, celebrated where it ought to be at. Not surprisingly, as things always go according to what you imagine it to be like, it rained all day the Sunday (June 30) I arrived. It rained all afternoon and it didn’t stop until sometime yesterday (Tuesday, July 2). Now it really wasn’t the rain that bugged me—back in California I rarely had rain of  this magnitude—it was the insanely high humidity. Coupled with the heat and all, the rain was more of a sauna than a cool, refreshing shower.

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June 26, 2013

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Our Nation and Morality

moralToday the Supreme Court effectively shut down DOMA, allowing same sex marriages to commence as a traditionally married couple would across the nation to respective people’s desires, in short, giving same sex couples the “marriage status”. Additionally, to my very limited knowledge the federal court has also turned down appeals from defenders of California’s Proposition 8, clearing the way for same-sex marriages in California, although an absolute conclusion to this isn’t apparent just yet. As a result of DOMA being invalidated, same sex married couples can now enjoy the same benefits as traditionally married couples, such as Social Security, health insurance, joint tax returns, etc. Today is a great day for many, and I do share their joy even if I do not share their beliefs.

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June 21, 2013

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On Why I Hate Waking Up Late

Rise and shine!

Rise and shine!

The alarm clock goes off, but I don’t really notice it until five seconds in. I check the time: 5:30. Yanking myself out of bed I stealthily disarm the alarm. Then it starts; that magnetic attraction to my bed that always seems unrelenting. I fight it with all my might; with all my mana I push harder and harder. But I am defeated, and I drift back into the land of dreams until the new reality hits, laughing at my face as I look at the clock, horrified. The face adjacent mine is cold, unfeeling, and it reads “9:30″. I really hate waking up late in the morning. Late for me is anything past 8:00 am. Heck, even waking up at 7:30 in the morning upsets my apple cart a bit. It doesn’t matter how late I sleep, or how comfortable the bed feels in the morning; I absolutely detest waking up late, especially on the weekends or on vacation. I hate it with all my passion and fury!

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May 23, 2013

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2001: A Space Odyssey – On Mankind’s Relationship with Tools

2001_a_space_odyssey_1

From the onset of mankind, the principal driving force behind our evolution has been the tool. We as ape men, in order to adapt to our variable environment, took up the use of tools to gain the upper hand in the game of survival. However, underneath this relationship between man and his tool, the tool also shapes us from within, and it’s not difficult to see this if we look at various jobs that require different specialties. A taxi driver possesses a brain that is optimized for storing mental maps; a violinist has a brain especially modified to suit the needs of the violinist’s delicate left fingers. And so the tool shapes ourselves as we use the tool. As we mastered the use of the bone as an instrument of destruction, so did our brains began taking up the facility of thinking up weapons meant to kill. 2001: A Space Odyssey as a film explores this concept through following the progression and evolution of mankind.

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